Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Monday, July 30, 2007
Sunday, July 29, 2007
Maria Isabella "Belle" Boyd was born on May 4, 1844. She was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia. On July 4, 1861, a band of drunken Union soldiers broke into her home in Martinsburg, intent on raising the union flag over her house. When one of the soldiers insulted her mother, Belle shot and killed him with a pistol. Belle was 17 years old. A board of inquiry cleard her of all charges, but soldiers were posted around the house and officers kept close track of her activities. She profited from this arrangement, charming at least one of the officers, Daniel Keily, into revealing military secrets. "To him," she wrote later, "I am indebted for some very remarkable effusions, some withered flowers, and a great deal of important information." Belle conveyed those secrets to Confederate officers.
One evening in May of 1862, Union General James Shields and other officers gathered in the parlor of a local hotel. Belle hid upstairs, listening through a knothole in the floor. She learned that Shields had been ordered east, a move that would reduce the Union Army's strength at Front Royal. That night, Belle rode through Union lines and reported the news to a Confederate Scout. She then returned to town. When the Confederates advanced on Front Royal on May 23, Belle ran to greet General Stonewall Jackson's men, braving enemy fire that put bullet holes in her skirt. She urged an officer to inform Jackson that "the Yankee force is very small. Tell him to charge right down and he will catch them all." Jackson did and that evening penned a note of gratitude to her: "I thank you, for myself and for the army, for the immense service that you have rendered your country today."
Belle was betrayed by one of the Union Soldiers who had been providing her with information. She was arrested on this day (July 29th) in the year 1862. She was inprisoned in the Old Capital Prison in Washington DC.
Friday, July 27, 2007
Today we feature a most unusual image of an auction house. The merchandise being auctioned is described by a chilling sign on the front of the establishment, "Auction and Negro Sales". The building is a slave auction house in the south. While this is a very sad picture, taken in 1864, the institution of slavery was near extinction in the US. Slavery would end in 1865 with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Courthouse. Happily on this day (July 28) in the year 1868, the 14th amendment to the US constitution was passed, giving full citizenship to African Americans.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Monday, July 23, 2007
This is a nice portrait of President Ulysses S. Grant. Grant was an unknown, unsuccessful man, until he joined the army. In the Civil War, he quickly rose through the ranks, as he was one of the few Union Generals that was achieving success on the ground. Grant died on this day (July 23rd) in the year 1885.
Sunday, July 22, 2007
Saturday, July 21, 2007
Today we feature a photograph of a stone house. The house sits at the corner of the Manassas/Sudley Road and the Warrenton Turnpike in Virginia. The photograph was taken in 1861. On this date (July 21st) in 1861, this house was the central point of the first major battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Bull Run. At this point in time, Northerners were confident that the war would be over in a matter of a few weeks. When the upper crust of Washington DC and Maryland heard that the two armies were approaching each other in this area, they all turned out to watch the battle, expecting to see the Rebels get routed. Women brought picnics, and carousels, and people rode out in fancy buggies. Unseasoned Union Army troops under General Irvin McDowell advanced against the Confederate Army under Generals Joseph E. Johnston and P.G.T. Beauregard. The Union army appeared to be gaining the advantage early in the battle, as the Confederate line appeared to begin to crumble. As it began to look hopeless for the Confederates, one brigade from Virginia stood firm, under the command of General Thomas J. Jackson. Confederate units in retreat noticed General Jackson's Brigade standing firm near the stone house pictured above, and someone commented, "There is Jackson standing like a stone wall". Jackson's stand encouraged the Rebels, who reversed their retreat, and attacked. This set the Union army into a panic. The entire union army was routed, and the soldiers began a paniced run back to Washington DC. All the elite of Washington that had turned out to watch the battle were caught up in the middle of the action, as the Union army scattered. Several carriages were hit by Rebel shells, and many overturned in the panic of the retreat.
Friday, July 20, 2007
Today we feature a portrait of famed Sioux chief and warrior Sitting Bull. Sitting Bull is remembered as the man who defeated Custer and his 7th Cavalry. After this 1876 battle, Sitting Bull became a fugitive. Over the next year, US Army forces relentlessly pursued the Sioux, forcing many of the Indians to surrender. Sitting Bull refused to surrender, and escaped into Canada, where he remained in exile for many years, refusing a pardon and the chance to return. Hunger and cold eventually caught up with him, and on this day (July 19th) in 1881, Sitting Bull, his family, and a few remaining warriors surrendered to Army forces.
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
Today we feature a portrait of Civil War Colonel Robert Shaw. It was on this day (July 18th) in the year 1863 that Robert Shaw led the 54th Massachusetts Infantry against the heavily entrenched Confederate position at Fort Wagner. The 54th Massachusetts Infantry was made up of Runaway and Emancipated Slaves. Colonel Shaw led the charge and, along with most of his regiment, fell in the attack. The confederates, highly offended that the Union would employ ex-slaves in the army, sought to desecrate Mr. Shaw, by burying him in a mass grave with the Black soldiers who fell with him. This attempt to humiliate Shaw turns out to be the greatest honor that could have been bestowed on him. Mr Shaw, and his brave Black compatriots, was the subject of the movie "Glory"
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Today we feature an interesting photograph of Stalin, President Truman, and Winston Churchill. These were the three most powerful men in the world at the time. The photograph was taken at the Potsdam Conference, which was a meeting to figure out how to move forward in the world after World War II. The Potsdam Conference began on this day (July 17) in the year 1945.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
Today we feature a photograph of noted outlaw William Bonney, better known as Billy the Kid. He was a 19th century Old West outlaw and gunman. He was a key combatant in the Lincoln County Wars. He was reported to have killed 21 men, one for each year of his life.
William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid, was killed on this day (July 14th) in the year 1881 near Fort Sumner, New Mexico. He was killed in a shootout with Lincoln County Sheriff Pat Garrett, who was formerly a friend.
Friday, July 13, 2007
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Today we feature an image of Aaron Burr. Aaron Burr was an American politician, Revolutionary War hero and adventurer. He was the third Vice President of the United States. On this date (July 11th) in 1804, Burr participated in the infamous Burr-Hamilton duel. This was a duel between two prominent American politicians, former Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton and sitting Vice President Aaron Burr. Burr shot and killed Hamilton.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Saturday, July 7, 2007
Today we feature a photograph of the hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators. They were hung on this day (July 7) in 1865.
John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, but he was part of a much larger conspiracy to kill government officials. Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer was part of a conspiracy that had also planned the attack on William H. Seward. They hoped to overthrow the government by killing Lincoln, Secretary Seward, and Vice President Johnson. Booth succeeded in killing Lincoln, but the larger plot failed. Seward would recover from his wounds, and Johnson's assigned assassin simply left Washington when it was learned Johnson was not home.
Eight of Booth's co-conspirators were tried by a military tribunal after his death. The trial lasted for about seven weeks. The verdict was given on July 5. All of the defendants were found guilty. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt were sentenced to death by hanging. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O'Laughlen were given life in prison. Edmund Spangler was sentenced to imprisonment for six years.
Surratt, Powell, Herold, and Atzerodt were hanged in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary on July 7. Mary Surratt was the first woman to be hanged by the U.S. government.
Friday, July 6, 2007
Thursday, July 5, 2007
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
Today we feature a photograph of Old Glory from the Civil War. A soldier from the 37th Pennsylvania Infantry is shown in uniform holding the flag. The photograph was taken in 1864. On this 4th of July we say "Thank You" to all the men and women in the armed forces, working to protect our freedom, and provide for our safety.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Monday, July 2, 2007
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Today we feature a photograph from the Battle of Gettysburg. A fallen Confederate soldier is shown in the center of the picture, next to his rifle. The area pictured was known as the "Devil's Den". The Battle of Gettysburg was one of the bloodiest battles in American History, with over 46,000 men killed or wounded.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on this day (June 30) in the year 1863.
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought on this day (June 30) in the year 1863.